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Fred Everson
In Mentor for Life, Natasha Sistrunk Robinson gives us a fresh challenge to develop committed followers of Jesus through mentoring. I found her model and exhortation fresh for its small group approach (in contrast to one-to-one) and for its balance between recommending structure or content and encouraging adaptability as mentors get to know their mentees. The book provides a solid framework rather than a prescriptive “ how-to” manual—or maybe it is inviting because the ample “ how-to” is situated among reminders that God’s gracious work is primary. Read more
We are shaped by our stories. In fact, our stories, once in place, determine much of our behavior without regard to their accuracy or helpfulness. Once these stories are stored in our minds, they stay there largely unchallenged until we die. And here is the main point: these narratives are running (and often ruining) our lives. That is why it is crucial to get the right narratives. Read more
Spring Harvest is the largest Christian festival in Europe, composed of four six-day conferences around Easter each year, and serving something over 20,000 guests in all. I have spoken at Spring Harvest—including, as it happens, on the theme of biblical equality—for several years now. The last two years, I’ve been invited to serve on the leadership team. The final night of the conference, I joined other leaders to pray for the event. Read more
Marnie Ferree presents a deeply moving and sometimes disturbing investigation of sexual abuse from the perspective of the injured, as one who was deeply wounded through sexual victimization, and the healer, as an actively working counselor and minister to those who have experienced similar abuse. And, as if such revelatory investigations from the first-person perspective were not difficult enough, Ferree takes the discussion to an entirely new depth of difficulty: she presents herself as the perpetrator as well. Read more
In the United States, it is estimated that there are between fifty thousand to more than one million instances of child sexual abuse (CSA) each year. Research shows that one out of every four girls and one out of every seven boys has been sexually abused before the age of eighteen. This means that, “in any group of adults gathered together for ministry or another purpose, 15 to 20 percent of the people present may have been sexually abused by an adult before the age of eighteen.” We may have relatives, friends, colleagues, and members of our church who are still haunted by the traumatic memories of CSA and tormented by its poisonous effects on their lives, but who choose to conceal their pain. Churches and caregivers should not ignore the needs of this silent group of sufferers. This article discusses some of the major steps in the healing process of CSA survivors and how caregivers can be equipped to facilitate the process by adopting a multidisciplinary approach. Read more
In our society we have been taught to view marriage as the only natural arrangement and singleness as somehow “deviant.” Adulthood and emotional maturity are synonymous with marriage and parenthood while social psychologists tend to refer to singles as “those who fail to marry,” or as “those who do not make positive choices” (Stein, 1976). Although there is a notable dearth of research on this topic, latest studies show that a growing number of women are remaining single by preference (Peterson, 1981). Read more
Life sometimes comes in shock waves. A marriage teetering between life and death. A child born to an unmarried teenage daughter. A job loss. A notice of house foreclosure. A middle-of-the-night chaplain’s visit bearing the news of a son’s death. Sometimes life can be too much. Within two years Karen had endured each of these shock waves. When it seemed the hurt could not go any deeper, it managed to seep through whatever remaining façade of togetherness Karen could fake. And then her 23-year-old son — her only son — died. Out in the familiar Michigan countryside near the property of a dear friend, Karen walked. Soon family and friends would be coming to bury the ashes of her son under a sapling that would be planted at the service. Alone in the place that had nurtured her through the years, Karen cried out to God, “You’re still here, aren’t you?”  A butterfly fluttered near her chest. Then it flew away, circling back and coming close several times in the next few minutes. God, through creation, reminded Karen that yes, he was still very present. This butterfly experience may seem coincidental and perhaps strange. Theologically, can we affirm that God answers a mother’s cry with a butterfly? There is at least one realm in which this experience will be taken seriously, even welcomed — a spiritual direction session. In this context, I have found there is freedom to examine life — the best of it and the worst of it — and look for evidence of God. Read more
Persecution and injustice are expected in a fallen world. Yet, finding the right way to deal with hurtful situations can still be difficult, says spiritual director Lola Scobey. “Persecution because of beliefs in biblical equality can challenge a person’s deepest sense of self and self-worth,” says Scobey. “A constant barrage of views historically held by some church groups ... can undermine a person’s confidence in both their personhood and their viewpoints.” Many emotions can be expected. Among them are anger, hatred, sadness, resentment, self-doubt, derailment, fear and hopelessness, says Scobey. “[D]ifferent strategies are required to deal with each of these negative emotions,” says Scobey. However, she adds that there are six fundamentals for dealing with any negative emotion. Read more
“It’s no accident that the Bible teaches that men should be the leaders. They are more rational, while women are more emotional.” How many times have you read or heard something like this?  Read more
If you want something ironed really well in our house, don’t ask me, ask my husband Malcolm. Trousers are perfectly pressed, shirts and blouses beautifully crease-free — even towels are ironed so they’re extra fluffy. Why do I mention this? Ironing is one of those things that men are not supposed to be able to do. So I’m amused by the proliferation of popular books like Why Men Don’t Iron and Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps, which argue that differences between men and women are due most often to biology and are thus fixed and unalterable. Malcolm is far more proficient than I am at ironing, but I’m better than he is at reading maps, and, as he often has to remind me, he is much better at listening. Read more

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